Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

John Lewger (1602-1665)
MSA SC 3520-806


Born: in 1602 in London, England.
Died: in 1665 in London during the plague.
Immigrated: in 1637 as a free adult with his wife and son from London.
Resided: at "St. John's," St. Mary's County; returned to England in 1645; back in Maryland by late 1646; permanently resettled in England about October 1648 following the death of his wife and of his good friend Leonard Calvert (ca. 1606-1647).
Married: Ann, who died several years after her arrival in Maryland.

Son: John (1628-1669), who married Martha.
Daughters: possibly Cecily; possibly Ann, who married in 1661 William Tattershall.

Private Career
Education: admitted to Trinity College, 1616, B.A., 1619.
Religious Affiliation: an Anglican minister who converted to Catholicism in 1634; Catholic priest, by 1647-1665; refused admittance to the Society of Jesus, 1647.
Social Status and Activities: met Cecilius Calvert (1605-1675) at Trinity College; was the co-author of A Brief Relation of Maryland, 1634/35; arrived in Maryland with 7 servants and a commission as provincial secretary; received early financial assistance from John Smith, a linen draper of London, Thomas Cornwaleys (ca. 1605-1675/76), and Richard Bennett (ca. 1608-1675).
Occupational Profile: Anglican minister; faculty member of Trinity College, 1632; placeman; planter; merchant; Catholic priest, after 1647; chaplain to Lord Baltimore, after 1648.

Public Career
Legislative Service: Assembly, special writ 1637/38, special writ 1638/39, special writ and St. Mary's Hundred, 1640-1641, 1641/42 (Aggrievances), special writ 1642A (Laws, Accounts), special writ 1642B (Laws); Upper House, 1646-1646/47.
Other Provincial Offices: Council, 1637-1644, 1647-1648; secretary, 1637-1648; collector and receiver of rents, 1637-1648 (served jointly with Leonard Calvert (ca. 1606-1647) from 1646 to 1648); commissioner in causes testamentary, 1637/38-1648; attorney general, 1644-1648; surveyor general, 1637-1641/42.
Local Office: justice, St. Mary's County, 1637/38.
Stands on Public/Private Issues: led proprietary effort to restrict power of the Jesuits in Maryland; was suspended from offices on August 26, 1644, by Giles Brent (1600-ca. 1671/72) for having issued a commission without authorization to Capt. Henry Fleete to treat with the Indians; reinstated by Leonard Calvert (ca. 1606-1647) by September 6, 1644.

Wealth During Lifetime
Land: patented 200 acres called "St. John's" in St. Mary's County, 1639/40; sold all land in 1650. 

Source: Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., eds. A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol II. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985, p. 533.

Founding of Maryland - Educational Project for Elementary and Middle School Students
Maryland Public Television and Maryland State Archives (January-February 2003)
written by Maria A. Day, MSA Archival Intern

John Lewger was not one of the first colonists to come to Maryland in 1634 on the Ark or the Dove, but that did not stop him from soon becoming one of the most important men in the colony.  Lewger was born in England in 1602 and when he was fourteen years old he went to school at Trinity College at Oxford.  There he met Cecil Calvert and the two became friends.  Lewger became a priest in the Church of England, but later decided he needed a job that would pay more money.  He had a wife and a small son to support, so he moved to London to find work.  There, he ran into his old friend Cecil Calvert, who had become the proprietor of the new colony Maryland.  Calvert offered Lewger a job as Secretary in his new colony, so in November 1637, John Lewger, his wife Ann, and their nine-year-old son John arrived in Maryland on the ship Unity.  Lewger was very good at his job, and he helped to make sure that everything in the colony ran as smoothly as possible.  He was so good that he was also appointed to Maryland’s Council, which advised the Governor, and was later made Attorney General.  In his job, Lewger had to act as a judge, keep records, write down the laws passed by the Assembly, and collect all money owed to the proprietor.  In 1648, Lewger returned to England, but during his time in the colony, he proved very loyal to the Calvert family and helped the colony get off to a good start.

Return to John Lewger's Introductory Page

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